One year ago, Paul George was telling friends he planned on going to the Lakers in 2018. Therefore, the Lakers thought they had little incentive to trade for him. After they did not make the trade, George was traded to the Thunder and one year later re-signed with them.
Translation: one of the best two-way players in the NBA, a California native, one year before becoming an unrestricted free agent, has plans to become a Laker and wants to be traded there now. Sound familiar? This is, to a tee, the same situation Kawhi Leonard is in currently.
The Lakers did not even get to meet with George, a player many believed was destined to wear the Purple and Gold. This should all but erase any thoughts the Lakers have about waiting a year for Leonard.
If the Lakers are indeed adding LeBron James – which has tremendous momentum according to Brian Windhorst – they would be absolute fools to not put everything on the table and complete a deal for Leonard. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka should not even think about playing any games this time around.
If the Spurs want a lot, the Lakers should offer just that. As good as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart could potentially be, none of them will likely be as good as Leonard and they ain’t going to be by the time LeBron finally loses the battle to father time.
LeBron isn’t coming to babysit.
Could Leonard join the Lakers next year in free agency without the Lakers giving anything up? Sure. What is also possible is he gets traded to the 76ers and they win the East, or goes to the Celtics and wins another championship, or goes to the Clippers and becomes the man in the city he wants to be in, or just takes the money where he ends up. How is that for a “sure that could happen too”?
Then what? Well, LeBron is on a team that once again cannot win a championship.
Is it a risk trading for Kawhi Leonard with no commitment? Yes. Is that riskier than not trading for him at all? As tonight displayed, of course not.
Magic, Jeanie, Rob, don’t mess around, get this done.